Wells Brokers Concerned About Clamp on ‘Small’ Accounts Move to Stifel
Large firms’ growing restrictions on small accounts continue to needle some advisors and are motivating moves, especially in markets outside of major metropolitan areas.
“Stifel has common sense,” Bottomley said. “They’ll let us deal with everyone, not just the affluent.”
The team, which includes Bottomley’s son Dan, had been managing $310 million in client assets, according to a person familiar with the move.
Bottomley declined to discuss specifics of his practice but acknowledged his frustration at pay restrictions Wells has imposed for servicing household accounts under $250,000.
A Wells spokeswoman declined to comment on the departure or Bottomley’s remarks.
Like its wirehouse peers, Wells Fargo Advisors has been adding carrots and sticks to payout plans to encourage its approximately 12,000 brokers to focusing on wealthier investors. Its 2020 compensation plan restricts brokers to keeping 20% the fees and commissions collected from customers on household accounts with less than $250,000.
The penalty previously applied only to sub-$100,000 accounts, and contrasts with the 50% payout that brokers glean on larger accounts once a monthly production hurdle is passed. (In deference to market contractions and social-outreach restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic, Wells recently modified the small-account penalty by saying brokers can be measured according to clients’ yearend 2019 assets. It also withdrew a plan to double to $500,000 the asset levels customers must have to avoid account maintenance fees.)
Bottomley began his career in 1989 at Thomson McKinnon Securities, which was acquired by Wells predecessor Prudential Securities in 1989. Church similarly began his career at Prudential in 1985, according to their BrokerCheck histories.
In another shift from a wirehouse to a regional firm, Philadelphia-based Janney Montgomery Scott on Friday hired the father-daughter team of Gary and Amy Begnaud, who had been managing $430 million in client assets at Merrill Lynch in Mount Laurel, New Jersey.
The move, which includes two client associates, was motivated by the Begnauds’ desire “to keep the entrepreneurial spirit of our business,” the father said in a prepared statement. “Janney’s philosophy of keeping people at the center is the primary reason for transitioning the practice.”
Begnaud began his brokerage career 41 years ago at Merrill. His daughter first registered as a broker in 2014 at Merrill, according to their BrokerCheck histories.
Separately, Bruce Keebeck Lee—a former star private wealth broker at Merrill in Chicago who left in 2018 and who Finra suspended from working in the brokerage industry in October—is expanding the investment advisory firm he has formed.
Keebeck Wealth Management, which is not affected by the Finra action, last week hired a Merrill team who were managing $400 million in client assets, the firm said in a press release. The advisors are Steve C. Vujevich, a 21-year industry veteran, and Matthew P. Anderson, who has nine years of industry experience, according to their BrokerCheck records.
The two are opening a new office for Keebeck in Columbus, Ohio, the firm said.
“We are excited to join the independent movement,” Vujevich said in a statement. “We feel that, over the next 10 years, the RIA platform with true open architecture will be the best vehicle for to our clients to differentiate their portfolios and provide customized solutions.”
Keebeck, who managed $2.4 billion in client assets, has grown his new RIA to $1.4 billion since his exit from Merrill after allegations about his gaming mandatory compliance training requirements. Finra found that two associates on his team took exams for him.
Following founding of his RIA, Keebeck last summer started a hedge fund with $200 million, backed in part by Koch Industries.